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The William Harvey Research Institute - Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

Professor Roderick Flower


Emeritus Professor of Biochemical Pharmacology

Centre: Biochemical Pharmacology

Telephone: +44(0) 20 7882 8781


I read physiology at the University of Sheffield and graduated with a first class honours degree in 1971.  I went to the Royal College of Surgeons for my postgraduate training with John Vane (later Sir John, Nobel Laureate) and was awarded a PhD by the University of London in 1974.  I worked with John Vane and other colleagues for 11 years at the Wellcome Foundation in Kent (then a major pharmaceutical company) before moving to the University of Bath to take up the Chair of Pharmacology in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmacology in 1985. 

In 1990, I returned to London to (what was then) St. Bart’s Hospital Medical School and together with John Vane and other colleagues, co-founded the William Harvey Research Institute, serving as Institute Director from 2000-2004. My scientific output during my time here has been funded chiefly by a succession of programme grants from the Wellcome Trust.

I also have an interest in biosecurity matters. I chaired the Royal Society’s Scientific Aspects of International Security committee from 2006-2010 and have collaborated with the American Academy of Sciences and other organisations to review issues surrounding the misuse of science. I recently chaired the Royal Society’s Brain Waves project dealing with Neuroscience, conflict and security.

I was a Principal Fellow of the Wellcome Trust from 1994-2007 and was elected to fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences (1999) and the Royal Society (2003).  I was president of the British Pharmacological Society (2000-2003). I have published over 350 papers and books including co-authoring a best-selling pharmacology textbook. I have been awarded several national and international awards including the Life Time Achievement Award of the International Association of Inflammation Societies (2005).


Inflammation and anti-inflammatory drug action

I have spent the majority of my career working in on inflammation and anti-inflammatory drug mechanisms.  I was one of the original team that discovered how aspirin and aspirin-like drugs worked (1971) and I have retained an interest in ‘Cox’ pharmacology to this day. During my early career, I also researched platelet pharmacology. Together with a colleague, I invented a novel type of ‘platelet aggregometer’, which functions in whole blood: this is still in current use in hospitals and laboratories around the world. My main interest however concerns the mechanism of action of the anti-inflammatory glucocorticoids. Our lab discovered that glucocorticoids can release a protein (called Annexin A1) from some cell types and that this mediates many of the acute effects of these hormone-drugs including their anti-inflammatory actions.  Over the years we have studied this protein in great detail developing transgenic mice lacking the Annexin A1 gene to aid us with our studies. We also discovered recently that the cromone anti-allergic drugs work in a broadly similar fashion although utilising a different biochemical pathway. My current interest focuses on the biology of the Annexin A1 G-protein coupled receptor, ALX/FPR2 and its possible use as a novel therapeutic target.

Key Publications

Full list of publications

10 selected from last 5 years

  1. Yedgar S, Krimsky M, Cohen Y, Flower RJ (2007). Treatment of inflammatory diseases by selective eicosanoid inhibition: a double-edged sword? Trends Pharmacol Sci 28(9): 459-464.
  2. D'Acquisto F, Perretti M, Flower RJ (2008). Annexin-A1: a pivotal regulator of the innate and adaptive immune systems. Br J Pharmacol 155(2): 152-169.
  3. Spite M, Norling LV, Summers L, Yang R, Cooper D, Petasis NA, et al. (2009). Resolvin D2 is a potent regulator of leukocytes and controls microbial sepsis. Nature 461(7268): 1287-1291.
  4. Yazid S, Solito E, Christian H, McArthur S, Goulding N, Flower R (2009). Cromoglycate drugs suppress eicosanoid generation in U937 cells by promoting the release of Anx-A1. Biochem Pharmacol 77(12): 1814-1826.
  5. Dufton N, Hannon R, Brancaleone V, Dalli J, Patel HB, Gray M, et al. (2010). Anti-inflammatory role of the murine formyl-peptide receptor 2: ligand-specific effects on leukocyte responses and experimental inflammation. J Immunol 184(5): 2611-2619.
  6. Yazid S, Leoni G, Getting SJ, Cooper D, Solito E, Perretti M, et al. (2010). Antiallergic cromones inhibit neutrophil recruitment onto vascular endothelium via annexin-A1 mobilization. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 30(9): 1718-1724.
  7. Brancaleone V, Dalli J, Bena S, Flower RJ, Cirino G, Perretti M (2011). Evidence for an anti-inflammatory loop centered on polymorphonuclear leukocyte formyl peptide receptor 2/lipoxin A4 receptor and operative in the inflamed microvasculature. J Immunol 186(8): 4905-4914.
  8. Norling LV, Spite M, Yang R, Flower RJ, Perretti M, Serhan CN (2011). Cutting edge: Humanized nano-proresolving medicines mimic inflammation-resolution and enhance wound healing. J Immunol 186(10): 5543-5547.
  9. Bena S, Brancaleone V, Wang JM, Perretti M, Flower RJ (2012). Annexin A1 interaction with the FPR2/ALX receptor: identification of distinct domains and downstream associated signaling. J Biol Chem 287(29): 24690-24697.
  10. Flower R (2012). The Osler Lecture 2012: 'pharmacology 2.0, medicines, drugs and human enhancement'. QJM: Monthly Journal of the Association of Physicians 105(9): 823-830.




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